69. Mad Dash

The uneasy feeling in her gut is what allowed Rosella the courage and foolishness to run in a pair of high heels up a
winding mountain path with gaping death to both sides, and a vengeful wind threatening to sweep a girl off her feet!  
The claps of her shoes against the hard stone path sent throbs through her delicate feet and slender legs, but she
ignored the pain for the greater good of survival.  The wind’s howl became a raucous and Rosella knew now that if she
had decided to stay back where she was on the path, she would already be tossed over the edge, like a little doll.  
Despite having avoided a terrible fate through one decision did not mean she was safe from a similar fate in the other.  
And so, Rosella pinched her skirt in her slender fingers and briskly made her way up the twisty path grinning and
bearing the exhaustion setting in her legs from having to concentrate so furiously on balance under such dire

The focus paid off as the princess reached the top of the path and a safe plateau at the foot of the monstrous castle.  
Out of breath, and legs strained beyond endurance, Rosella’s ankles gave out and she slumped to her hands and
knees too exhausted to notice the pains from the pebbles that pressed into her palms and through the thin fabric of her
dress and hosiery.  Her little arms and legs trembled trying to support her as she panted with burning lungs, while her
long blonde hair blew about her in a mess.

“Rosella?” called a tiny familiar voice.  The weary princess couldn’t tell if the voice was real or a result of her oxygen
deprived brain, but then she heard it again.  “Rosella, is that you?”  Looking up from her slumped position, Rosella
could see a wooden barrel at the base of the castle.  There was a twinkling of light, and what appeared to be a pair of
fluttery wings, two little hands, and a tiny face peering over the edge, from within.

“Jenna?” spat Rosella still gasping for breath, clearly surprised to see the fairy again.  “Is that you?”

“Yes, oh Rosella it’s so good to see you again.  I had feared the worst!”

“You?  What about me?  I thought I had lost you back in the troll’s cave.  Or… I thought you were lost under the
waterfall.  I didn’t know what to think when you were gone!”  The words came out like the mixed up emotions that Rosella
was feeling at seeing the lost fairy again.  “Where have you been, Jenna?”

“I’ll admit, I narrowly escaped with my wings from that nasty cave troll.  But a little magic goes a long way.  By the time I
managed to get out though, you were nowhere to be seen.  I looked everywhere for you, but on the open countryside of
Tamir, it was just too big.  Before I knew it, the sun was setting, and then I knew I would never find you.  All I could do
was hope for your safety and plan to meet you here at Lolotte’s castle.  I knew if you survived that you would make your
way here, Rosella!”

“Thanks for your confidence,” remarked Rosella dryly.  “How long have you been here, and have you been inside?  
More importantly, do you know how I can get inside?”  The questions were streaming.

“I have been inside, Rosella, and you couldn’t have arrived a moment too soon!  Lolotte and Edgar are planning terrible
things.  They have Genesta and the rest of the fairies held captive all throughout the castle.  I overheard Lolotte talking
to Edgar about a terrible enchantment and draining the life force of Genesta and my sisters to animate a monster of
unstoppable power.  A beast so grand that not only would it lay waste to all of Tamir, but it would cross the sea and
destroy other kingdoms, even Daventry!”

“What!?  What creature could be so massive that it… Daventry!?” The shock and imagination leveled Rosella’s
thoughts.  “How could Lolotte be so… and Edgar?” her voice trailed off.

Jenna sensed Rosella’s confusion.  “Yes, Edgar.  I heard him speaking too.  He… he has changed, Rosella.”


“Yes, he knows you have returned to Tamir.”

“He knows!? How?”

“Lolotte is a very powerful witch.  She can see most anything in this mystical land, and she has shown her scorned son,
the return of the bride not to be his.”

“That’s not fair,” Rosella cast Jenna a wounded glance at the accusatory phrase.

“None the less, his pain is real, and he is angry and jealous of your beauty.  I fear the worse should you fall into their
hands, princess.”

“What do you mean?  What do they plan to do to me?  Jenna!?”  Rosella’s questions grew hysterical.

“I’m not sure.  I was almost discovered by Lolotte’s vigilant magic that I was unable to hear what they had in store for
you.  But you cannot let the fear of the unknown choke your heart, princess.  You need to be courageous now not only
for Tamir, but for all kingdoms!  If you fail to save Genesta and my sisters, I fear this mysterious beast will be brought to
life, and then all hope shall be lost…” Jenna’s doom prophecy trailed off into whimpering mumbles.

Rosella was confused.  The threat of an all-powerful beast was being clouded by her thoughts of Edgar, and his scorn
for her.  How could he be so hateful toward her?  He had wanted to marry her, and now this?  What would he do when
they again faced each other?  Could he forgive her?  And what was the cost to be forgiven?

“There is no more time to waste Rosella.  You must pick yourself up and get inside the castle.  You have Cupid’s bow
and quiver I trust?  You will need it if you are to vanquish Lolotte and prevent unthinkable destruction.  Rosella!”  Jenna’
s words jolted the inward princess.

“Yes, of course.  It is my quest,” said Rosella.  And for the first time, she wasn’t sure she meant it.  She wasn’t sure
about any of this anymore.  But for now, she went along with it, if by Jenna’s prodding only.

The little fairy spiraled through the air in lines of sparkly dust, before disappearing through a keyhole in a small door at
the base of the brooding castle.  Moments of tumbles followed by a click, and Jenna reappeared dusting off her hands.  
“There, it’s unlocked.  Now get yourself inside and save this land, princess.  But be careful!  As I said, Lolotte knows you’
re about once again!”

Rosella nodded and took hold of the cool iron knob on the door.  With a turn and a tug, she took the first step into the
final part of her journey…

Inside the castle